This course aims to provide students with a general overview of basic themes and issues in Middle Eastern history from the rise of Islam to the present, with an emphasis on the encounters and exchanges between the "Middle East" (Southwest Asia and North Africa) and the "West" (Europe and the United States).
First, we will examine the period which stretches from the 7th century (C.E.) to the end of the Abbasid Empire under the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. This saw the emergence of a new religion, Islam, the Christianization of Europe, and the flourishing of a Mediterranean world and culture. Second, we will study the period—between the 13th and the 17th century—characterized by the height of Ottoman territorial expansion, the flourishing of Northern European powers, European ventures into Asia, and the conquest of the Americas, which all redefined the physical and intellectual boundaries of both "East" and "West." Finally, we will analyze European intrusion into, competition with, and colonization of Middle Eastern societies after the 18th century—typified by Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798—and Middle Eastern responses to Western hegemony and to the new social, economic, and political developments of the 20th century.